Author Topic: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?  (Read 3778 times)

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Offline mattbyington

  • Posts: 88
Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« on: May 03, 2018, 12:04 AM »
A few weeks ago I purchased this hand plane:
https://www.woodcraft.com/products/woodriver-3-bench-hand-plane-v3

I am now finally getting ready to clean all the oil off of it, sharpen it, and practice with it (it's my first time with a hand plane).

Stupid question - does the bevel on the hand plane go up or down? I have it disassembled now and stupid me forgot to remember/take a picture on how it goes.

I've heard different planes go one way or the other.

What's the rationale behind either way?

Thanks!
Matt

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Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 87
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 12:41 AM »
Blade bevel down, then chip breaker, then lever cap. I usually set my chip breaker about a 64th back from the edge of the blade. Make sure that the blade assembly is seated completely flat in the frog and that the lateral blade adjustment lever is properly engaged in the back of the blade. You may have to play with the lever cap adjustment screw to get the tension just right. To test it get a small block of real wood that is no wider than 1/2” and clamp it in a vice edge up. Take a slice with your plane at very left edge of the plane blade and then another one at the right edge. Play with the lateral adjustment lever until the slices you take are the same on both sides. Then adjust the depth of cut until you get a nice thin shaving. Now try a thicker piece of wood to take a full width pass.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 87
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 12:47 AM »
Also, just to clarify. Not all planes go bevel down but your number 3 (Smoother) is part of a large family of hand planes called bench planes and they go bevel down.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 87
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 01:24 AM »
Block planes go bevel up.

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 730
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 01:28 AM »
Yep, bevel down on your plane.  You have a chip breaker on the blade that should come almost down to edge of the blade, and the chip breaker is a key part of how well this plane cuts.  If you try to install the blade bevel up, the chip breaker will not seat properly, the cutting angle will be too high, and I'd be surprised if you could even install it that way.

Bevel up planes have a bed for the blade that is set at a lower angle - generally 12 to 15 degrees rather than the 45 degrees or so on your plane.  The bevel of the blade then contributes to the overall cutting angle.  For example, a bevel up plane with a 15 degree bed angle and a 30 degree angle on the blade would have a cutting angle of 45 degrees.

If you don't understand how the geometry of a plane affects it's cutting ability, or need additional knowledge about setting up a new plane to cut well, I'd recommend The Handplane Book by Garrett Hack (Taunton Press).  A plane that is not tuned or adjusted properly will be a pain in the neck every time you use it, and may ruin your work as well.  A good quality plane that is tuned, adjusted, and sharpened properly is a thing of beauty and is a pleasure to use.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 01:32 AM by HarveyWildes »

Online Mario Turcot

  • Posts: 371
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 07:49 AM »
@mattbyington from the link you provided, go to the video. At one point Rob dis-assemble the plane and you can see the blade position. It's not the same plane you have but the same type of configuration.

Mario
Mario

Offline Billedis

  • Posts: 605
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 09:28 AM »
@HarveyWildes Great explanation.  I too am getting into more hand woodwork after having taken a class at the Florida School of Woodworking on the "minimalist woodworker".

One question I failed to ask is I see on Lee Valley's catalog many planes can be either bevel up or bevel down.  Is there a preferred plane?  Or are they for using on different types of wood, ie: curly, burl, birdseye or just highly figured?

Thanks as always for your expert input.  Bill

Offline mattbyington

  • Posts: 88
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 11:55 AM »
Thanks so much everyone for all of the fast and informative responses!

This weekend I will tear it down, clean everything and start adjusting and making test cuts.

Thanks again!

Matt

Offline lwoirhaye

  • Posts: 142
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2018, 12:57 PM »
Hand plane cutting angles can be got down to about 37 degrees on a bevel up plane like Lee Valley sells.  These low angles are arguably a little better for polishing cuts on end grain than the standard 45 degree angle of regular Bailey-style bevel down planes.   The low-angle bevel-up planes have a bed angle of 12 degrees and when you add 25 degrees for an iron with no 30 degree micro-bevel you get 37 degrees.  That 25 degree bevel is a little fragile.   In  standard use if you honed a bevel up plane with a 30 degree micro bevel and then you're cutting at 42 degrees.   This is why I think the purported advantages for working end grain are over stated and the distinction between the two types of planes is most splitting hairs.

Bevel up planes are cheaper to manufacture than Bailey pattern planes with the bevel down.  With bevel up planes you can do a trick of sharpening the iron to a more obtuse edge which results in more of a scraping cut.   With a bevel down plane you can do this too, by putting a back-bevel on the iron, or by learning to use the chip breaker better.   High angle planes were common among 19th century cabinet makers who would have different fine planes (Spiers, Norris, etc.) for working the exotic tropical woods available to them at the time.  These fine planes were expensive and you might need more than one for different situations.  When the chipbreaker was invented these planes became less popular because this one improvement could make one plane adaptable to working a wider range of wood.

So, you can fuss around with switching irons sharpened at different angles, acquire different planes, work at mastering the chipbreaker, use scrapers or a scraper plane, or perhaps a combination of these approaches, which is what I do.  I don't switch irons that much though.  If I can't get the result I want by tweaking the chipbreaker on my best smooth plane I'll switch to a high-angle wooden plane I have or just go to scraping if I don't feel like adjusting the high angle plane.

Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 182
    • In The Woodshop
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2018, 01:38 PM »
Both BU and BD planes have their pros and cons. The world of plane design and use is very rich, and there is always something new to learn. For example, over the past 6 years there has been a re-awakening of interest in the chipbreaker as means of controlling tearout.

A few years ago I wrote a 4-part article on plane design choices, which centred on the then new Veritas Custom Planes, but also included other BU and BD alternatives ..



It began here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/VeritasCustomPlanes1.html

Regards from Perth

Derek

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 470
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2018, 04:46 PM »
In  standard use if you honed a bevel up plane with a 30 degree micro bevel and then you're cutting at 42 degrees.   This is why I think the purported advantages for working end grain are over stated and the distinction between the two types of planes is most splitting hairs.


It is indeed close to splitting hairs if one hones a BU blade to a cutting angle of 42* or so, vs a standard BD angle of 45*. However, if one sticks to the recommended BU angle for end grain work, the difference is there of 8* (45*-37*), and the difference is noticeable when planing lots of endgrain work. I quote:

"A bevel-up plane, it has a bed skewed 20° to reduce cut resistance and make a shearing cut that leaves a clean finish on end grain. Combined with the 12° bed angle and 25° blade bevel, this yields an effective cutting angle of 35°."  http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=70926&cat=1,230,41182,48945

The above clean finish remark still applies to anyone who uses a sharp, even though unskewed, low angle jack for shooting.

All but one (Custom Plane #4) in my possession and in regular use are Veritas BU planes. For handling difficult grains, I go with the Custom Plane or a BU with a high angle (up to 50* plus a micro-bevel). For day-to-day work, the BUs wih a cutting angle of 37* are easier to push, especially when I have a lot of shavings to make.

Another reason I keep additional/spare blades with higher angles for my BUs is that when a blade gets dull in the middle of planing, I can finish the work with a swapped blade without stopping to sharp the dull piece. I prefer to sharpen all the dull blades in one session.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 04:54 PM by ChuckM »

Offline Joe Felchlin

  • Posts: 96
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2018, 05:02 PM »
Thx Matt for your questions - And guys, for you input. Perfect timing.
I’ve been “getting into” my hand planes more and more -
Needing the information and expertise the guys responded with here.

You might also check out the Lie-Nielsen web-site.
L-N hand planes are “Festool” priced... And almost too nice to use.
But their web-site has some great instructional information and videos.

Also, as noted - The Handplane Book by Garrett Hack (Taunton Press) - Is excellent.
As are many other Taunton Press books on woodworking.
Not cheap - But worth ‘em. They’re also available at many libraries.
You remember libraries - Right?  [wink]
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 05:08 PM by Joe Felchlin »
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Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 182
    • In The Woodshop
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2018, 07:07 AM »
My reference above is rich in information, but many are not going to go to it, so I will spell out a few issues.

I have been using BU bench planes for well over 10 years - from before their popular revival - and have been part of the pre-production testing team for Lee Valley/Veritas over this time. I am familiar with them all. I also demonstrate planes for Lie Nielsen at wood shows, and know their planes as well. My apology if this sounds pretentious.

Both companies make excellent bench planes, both BU and BD. You really cannot go wrong with either.

Having said that, there are differences of relevance in BU and BD bench planes.

For many years I was the strongest advocate of BU planes. I still am, but now prefer to use BD planes. BU planes are easy to use and are nearly foolproof. I only use two different cutting angles: 37 degrees for end grain (e.g. shooting board, or traversing across the grain when flattening a board); and 62 degrees for interlocked face grain. Note that different countries have different woods, and the level of complexity covers a wide range. My local Australian hardwoods are both extremely hard and extremely interlocked. A 50 degree cutting angle does not work any differently from a 45 degree cutting angle, both far too low in a BU bench plane for interlocked grain.

When honing BU blades with high cutting angles, I strongly recommend that you only purchase blades with a 25 degree primary bevel ... and not those with high angle bevels (such as sold by LV). The latter will be extremely hard work to add a camber ... and all bench plane blades should have some camber. That is another topic. The way to hone a BU blade is to add a micro secondary bevel via a honing guide (since the secondary angle is critical). I am happy to discuss this if anyone wants to know the details, and why.

High angle BD (Bailey pattern) planes are to be avoided. Resist the temptation to buy LN and Veritas bench planes with high angle frogs, especially the wider half sizes (e.g. #4 1/2, etc). They are more difficult to push (by contrast, high angle BU bench planes are not). The weakness of a high cutting angle plane is that it can generally only taking a thin, smoothing cut. This leads to a great deal of extra, time-consuming effort. Far, far better to get a BD bench plane with a common angle frog (45 degrees) and learn to set the chipbreaker (in my article above) to control tearout. Not only will such a plane be easier to push, and leave a better surface than a high cutting angle, but tearout is reduced to nil with the chipbreaker - one could plane into the grain without fear. This makes it possible to plane bookmatched panels, where the grains run in opposite directions.

This is skimming the surface. Just ask questions. Happy to answer.

Regards from Perth

Derek
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 08:41 PM by derekcohen »

Offline Billedis

  • Posts: 605
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2018, 11:00 AM »
Wow thank you @derekcohen, @ChuckM for all the great information. 

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 730
Re: Hand Plane - Blade bevel up or down?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2018, 08:13 PM »
Wow thank you @derekcohen, @ChuckM for all the great information.

As an aside, I'll vouch for @derekcohen's advice.  I've been taking it lately as I've been tuning up some new planes.  Best tune ups I've ever done.